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We’re All Anti-Rape, But Are We All Anti Anti-Rape Wear?

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November 12, 2013

The feminist internet blew up last week in response to AR Wear, a company that purports to offer a product “that will offer better protection against some attempted rapes while the work of changing society’s rape culture moves forward.”  They are essentially anti-rape underwear – shorts that can’t be removed or cut off the body in the hopes of stopping a potential rape from happening.

The general feminist response I saw revolved around two main ideas.  First, rape doesn’t really happen when you’re going out, by strangers. Often, rape happens in really intimate situations between partners.  While a garment like the ones offered by AR Wear could be helpful when being accosted by a stranger most of the time rape cannot be anticipated and a future rape victim cannot prepare.  Secondly, AR Wear gives victim blamers another reason to blame victims and another step that people can fail to take when attempting to protect themselves from rape. The same way that women are blamed for wearing revealing clothing or leading a rapist on, people might be blamed for failing to wear anti-rape wear under their clothes – clearly they must have wanted it if they didn’t protect themselves against rape!

However, I’m hesitant to throw away the idea of anti-rape wear altogether.  As I and many other young people know, saying no can be complicated and the power structures behind any situation can make saying the word difficult.  Perhaps something like these undergarments would give people who were finding themselves in uncomfortable sexual situations a way to say no implicitly.  Too many sexual assaults happen when both parties fail to communicate but it’s certain that these undergarments carry a strong message.  And ultimately I like the idea of empowering people with the control to decide when and where and why their pants come off and giving that power to one person alone – the wearer.

So what do you think?  Is anti-rape wear just another important asset in a person’s self-defense toolkit?  Or does it create more reasons to blame victims of assault for failing to prepare adequately?

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One Response to “We’re All Anti-Rape, But Are We All Anti Anti-Rape Wear?”

  1. Tara

    This is solution is so unproductive in terms of dismantling the pervasive systems of oppression that create the power dynamics you talk about. Overall I see this as totally detrimental to anti-rape conversations and movements that are inclusive of all victims and rapists and potential victims and rapists.